I grew up in California. Around age 18, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. When I wasn’t attending school, I worked as a lifeguard at the beach. A homeless man named Walter frequented the beaches, and I looked after him from time to time, as much as he looked after me.
My family was just getting ready to move back up the coast when I realized I hadn’t seen Walter in a little while. I was worried that something had happened to him. The day we were set to leave, Walter found his way to me on the beach. He told me the Holy Spirit had moved in his heart, and he had been saved at a revival.
He continued sharing how he met a few men who gave him two New Testaments. They told him one was for keeping and the other was to share with a friend. As he said this, Walter reached out to offer me an orange New Testament. I took the book and shook his hand. However, once I returned home, I put the book in a box and forgot about it.
Moving in the Right Direction
After we moved north, I became a teacher at a Christian school and was involved in our church as a youth pastor. Even though I appeared busy with the things of God, a slow lull began to creep into my spiritual life. I was not growing in my faith and did not feel close to God.
After sharing this with a close friend, he encouraged me to step out of my bounds a little bit. He suggested I combine my passion for running with a commitment to grow closer to God. He said, “Why don’t you find a place where you feel like you can actually run towards God?” So, that’s exactly what I did.
I started running up in the hills in northern California. One specific spot really challenged me because the hill escalated about three miles. Eventually, I decided to start having a quiet time at the top of the hill to study my Bible. When I thought about the extra weight of a Bible on such a run, I almost gave up the idea. Then I remembered the small orange New Testament Walter had given me.
Three days a week for two and a half years, I ran that hill and studied Scripture using that New Testament. I actually dug a small hole under a tree at the top of the hill where I kept the Testament and a few pens in a plastic bag. Each time I ran the hill, my secret spot was waiting, and I sat under that tree and let God’s Word speak to me.
I wrote anything and everything in those margins—from personal prayers to revelations God had provided through my study of His Word. When I found out I was having a child, I recorded that praise. I also wrote,
“If ever found, please return to Pastor Todd Keough,” in case I ever lost the New Testament.
God led me and my family to move from Concord, California, to the Sacramento area. As we wrapped up packing the house and got ready to leave, I knew I had one last chance to run that hill and collect my New Testament. As I came to the top and rounded the corner to my special spot, I noticed a freshly dug hole. Someone had stolen my New Testament. I couldn’t get over it—it was my journal and it was gone.
I found your Bible
In our new town, I tried to start running to a special place again for quiet time. I found another spot. I tried to bring another Bible, but it never quite felt the same. I had to give it over to God.
About ten years later, I received a phone call from a man named Hector. He said, “Is this Pastor Todd Keough?” I confirmed he had reached the right number. “I found your Bible,” he said. I responded hesitantly, “I have my Bible right here.”
Hector continued, “No, it’s a little orange one.”
Immediately my interest was peaked. “How did you get it? Where are you?”
Hector continued to share the journey of my orange New Testament, “My father received this book from his cellmate in Vacaville State Prison. His cellmate read all these little highlighted things in the margins, and he witnessed to my father. Because of that, my father gave his life over to Christ while in prison. When his cellmate was released, my father started a Bible study in the prison using your little New Testament. Hundreds of men came to know Christ.
“My dad gave me the Testament when he got out of jail. I read it and also became a Christian. I just want you to know, you can have your Testament back now. And I want to encourage you…God can use your words and His Word even after much time has passed.”
“You need to keep it,” I told him. “I’m not ready to have it back yet. Maybe God will use it again in someone’s life.” I thanked Hector for calling and carried that encouragement the next three years before receiving another call.
“Is this Pastor Todd Keough?” a voice asked.
“It is,” I replied.
The man was from Huntington Beach, California, and he had my orange New Testament.
“There are five different names on the inside cover of this little book,” he said, “and I have some questions to ask you.” He began to ask about God and whether following after Him was really worth it. He read aloud what I recognized as my own thoughts written years ago in the margins of that New Testament. “Did you write this?” he asked. “Did you say that God’s Word is a sword that can pierce a man’s heart?”
“I did say that,” I replied.
He continued to more personal notes written in the margins. “Do you have a son named Nicholas?”
When I answered yes, he asked how old my son was. “He is 21,” I said.
The man was amazed, “Wow! I’ve been praying for him.”
I asked him if he had ever heard of The Gideons. He shared he noticed the logo on the front cover of the Testament and had asked around to see if anyone knew Mr. Gideon. Eventually he found himself filling out an application to become a Gideon and was able to pass out New Testaments at local high schools.
Gideons and Auxiliary, God will use your ministry. Those days I cried over that little Scripture on the hill – filling its pages with my fears and anxiety about life – I had no idea what God had in store!
Editor’s Note: We are thankful to God for Todd’s testimony and how He continues to use Todd to reach others for Christ. Todd and his wife, Debbie, have four children: Nicholas, Bubba, Sarah, and Grace. He currently serves as a full-time Bible teacher at Tabernacle Christian School and as a youth pastor at Valley Christian Church—both in Concord, California.